In the 1970s, Khaidu, the first South Korean women’s film collective, was at the forefront of a new feminist aesthetic that opposed the highly male-dominant and repressive culture of “yusin”—a term literally meaning revitalization, but de facto referring to the absolute rule of Park Chung Hee. Through experimental filmmaking, performance, and the organization of small film festivals where they could exhibit their work, Khaidu members transformed themselves from students at a prestigious women’s college with limited work options into filmmakers resisting the dominant culture. Far from being self-proclaimed rebels, these women worked from and within their vulnerability as young women under the power of the patriarchy. In this talk, I show how the members of Khaidu, taking the source of their vulnerability as a foundation of their work, radicalized a film language and a space for women in a way that critiqued systematic repression of women’s voices. Building upon the feminist conceptualization of vulnerability, an examination of Khaidu’s work, and an interview with the filmmakers, I claim that the Khaidu filmmakers provide a radical example of feminist resistance that still speaks powerfully to us today.
About the speaker:
Hieyoon Kim is a scholar of modern Korean culture and history. Her research focuses broadly on how media develops in and transforms political uncertainty. She is currently completing a book entitled Celluloid Democracy: Cinema and Politics in Cold War South Korea, which concerns the intersection of cinema and activism as well as the shifting geopolitics of postcolonial Korea. Drawing on archival research, film analysis, interviews, and critical theory, the book demonstrates how South Korean film workers activated cinema’s critical capacity to embody the ethos of democracy in their reckoning with the limitations of constitutional autocracy. Another area of her research considers the changing role of social media in urban activism across Asia, with a particular focus on South Korea. Her co-authored books include Korea, Cinema, Seen from A Foreigner’s Eyes: The Theodore Conant Collection (Seoul: Korean Film Archive, 2016), and her most recent work has appeared in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Korea Journal, and the Journal of Asian Studies.